Lion King Tickets           

Christopher's "Hang On to the Dream" Gives
Denver Teen Who Used Dance To Turn Her Life Round
A Huge Surprise

Denver, CO - October 19, 2006 --  Growing up, Vanessa was surrounded by numerous negative influences from within her community.  By the 8th grade, she was already experimenting with drugs and doing poorly in school, until someone close to her died from a drug overdose.  Vanessa knew then that she had to make a change in her life.  Instead of drugs, Vanessa used dance as a way to escape.  She began to spend hours in her bedroom after school dancing in front of a small mirror that sat on top of her dresser.  At the same time, Vanessa also began doing her homework more often.    

Defying the odds,  Vanessa has "hung on" to her dream and turned her life around.  With a 4.0 grade point average, this spring Vanessa will become the first person in her family to ever graduate high school. 

Because of Vanessa's hard work and determination, the Hang On to the Dream Foundation, the national, non-profit, children's organization which helps kids all over the country reach their goals in life by supplying them with needed equipment, opportunities and/or money, recently gave Vanessa the surprise of a lifetime.  "As soon as my staff and I saw her dance we had tears in our eyes, " says Christopher Ewing, an Emmy Award winning TV host and founder of The Hang On to the Dream Foundation.  Vanessa came to Ewing's attention when she attended an event that his organization held last month at Columbine High School, looking for kids like Vanessa who were in need of assistance in order to reach their goals in life.  "On her sponsorship application, Vanessa wrote that her dream is to study all types of dance, and as soon as I read that I knew that with everything she has overcome in her life, we had to help her see all of the wonderful possibilities that are out there for her."

Ewing and his staff recently made a surprise visit to Vanessa and presented her with the following opportunities:

Lion King Tickets   

The Hang On to the Dream Foundation is going to fly Vanessa and her mother to New York City where she will get the chance to go backstage and work with one of the dancers of the hit Broadway musical, "The Lion King". 

Vanessa will also get the chance to meet with Judine Somerville, one of the performers of the hit musical, "Hairspray".  Vanessa will be taken on a "behind-the-scenes" tour of the production which tells the story of a girl who, like Vanessa, has a dream of becoming a dancer and does not let negativity and adversity stand in the way of that dream. 

Madame Tussauds - New York
 Vanessa will also get to go on a special tour of the world-renowned Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.  Located in the heart of New York's Times Square, Madame Tussaud's is home to some of the most incredible wax images of some of the world's most famous stars. 

Vanessa was also told that she and her mom are going to be flown to Hollywood, California, where Vanessa will get the chance to meet, and learn some dance moves from, Brian Friedman, choreographer for stars such as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and many others.  Brian is also one of the celebrity judges on the hit TV show, "So You Think You Can Dance."


While in California, Vanessa will also get the chance to go backstage and learn a few Irish dance steps from one of the Principal Dancers of the internationally-acclaimed show "Riverdance" during one of their tour stops.


"I think that it's awesome that these incredible productions and talented dancers are willing to make the time to allow Vanessa to meet and work with them", Ewing says. "This is one of those situations where just a few minutes of their time is going to have a lasting impact in her life forever." 

Vanessa's exciting journey begins in New York City with her visit to "Hairspray" on November 7 and "The Lion King" on November 8th.  Then it is on to Los Angeles, where she will dance with Brian Friedman on November 14 and then visit with one of the dancers from "Riverdance" on November 15 during their tour stop in San Diego.

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Click here to view a news clip from a recent interview on this story

"Click Here"
to view a video clip of Vanessa auditioning to receive sponsorship at the
"Hang On to the Dream" - Dream Search event that was held at
Columbine High School
in Denver, Colorado on Saturday, September 9, 2006.


About "Hang On to the Dream Foundation"

The Hang On to the Dream Foundation is a national, 501 (c) (3), non-profit organization founded by Emmy Award winning actor and TV host Christopher Ewing following the success of a series of children's television specials he created called "Hang On to the Dream". On the show, kids 12-18 years of age from all races and backgrounds, are featured because of their outstanding skills, achievements or triumph over tragedy.   Then, in a one-of-a-kind television format, Christopher surprises those kids at school, at home, etc. and gives them "things"; from needed items or equipment to money, that will help them to continue to succeed in their dreams.  In 1995, the year the show originally premiered, "Hang On to the Dream" was presented with the prestigious Emmy Award for "Best Children's & Youth Program".  That same year, the National Association of Broadcasters presented Christopher and "Hang On to the Dream"  with the "Service to Children Television Award" at a black tie reception held on Capitol Hill, where the NAB named "Hang On to the Dream" one of the Top-10 kid's shows on television, out of over 200 shows judged from around the country.   Because of the increasingly negative content available on television for children to watch,  "Hang On to the Dream" has begun shooting new episodes of the show.  The Hang On to the Dream Foundation is currently on a 15-city nationwide tour meeting with kids who are in need of sponsorship and presenting them with needed items, opportunities and money to help them continue to "hang on to the dream".  For more information, please visit